Meat Me At The Arms
STORY & PICTURES BY RICHARD CORNISH
There is a butcher out the back in the kitchen of The Farmers Arms Hotel in Creswick. He is also a chef. This once rough and tumble country pub in the old gold mining and forestry town of Creswick has new owners and has become known for its house-made charcuterie, sausages and dry-aged beef.
Owner Chris Molloy is a Creswick resident who has established her hospitality credentials as owner of fine dining destination restaurant The Perfect Drop in Daylesford. A few years back she was eating at the Farmers Arms when the thought struck her. “I need to buy this and do it up,” she says with a laugh. Although the pub was not on the market, she put an offer in and was soon doing up the old 150-year-old pub. “I am a serial renovator,” she says jokingly. Molloy is actually a woman of vision.
She moved to Creswick and had faith in the old town. It needed a good pub and she took it on herself to make it happen. A year and a half ago, the Farmers Arms reopened with new fittings, furnishings and interiors creating a smart and comfortable place for everyman.
What really sets this place head and shoulders above the competition is the serious attitude the team takes to the preparation of its housemade smallgoods. Chef Nathan Daniell is also a butcher and together with head chef Luke Hill, they turn out some serious charcuterie. The platter of house cured meats starts with several rolled pieces of finely sliced and perfectly cured bresaola. Then there are thick slices of lomo, cure pork loin, one of the most authentic versions of this Spanish style of charcuterie. There’s some deep red and flavoursome prosciutto and slices of real, well cured chorizo. Served with grilled bread, beetroot pickled and pickled fennel, this is a starter perfectly suited to a drop of red and the Farmers Arm, Creswick has a good list of local wines and those from further afield.
The team work with local farmers such as Brooklands Free Range Pork, Green Hills Natural Beef and Tuki Lamb. Having Nathan working on-site also means that the team practice whole carcass butchery –all of the beast is used and none of it goes to waste.
One of the best sellers is a trio of lamb. There is rolled, slow cooked and grilled lamb belly, big juicy lamb cutlet and a really well made lamb sausage served with a ball of labna rolled in zaatar and all drizzled in pomegranate molasses. Added to the meaty list are favourites like terrine and specialty dishes like crisp crumbed lamb’s brains as well as crowd pleasers such as pork belly with Asian greens or chicken parmigiana made with house smoked ham.
“But hospitality is about people,” says Chris. “And while the food here is really good, it’s the way we look after people that really counts.”
Farmer's Arms Hotel Creswick
31 Albert Street, Creswick,
Open daily 11.30am-11pm
(03) 5345 2221 farmersarmscreswick.com